51,000 Saudi Women Get Private Sector Jobs in 2016

The employment of Saudi women in the private sector has increased by about 10 percent last year over the previous year to reach 51,040, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has said.

According to the ministry, the sector of the building and construction has alone employed 14,702 Saudi women in 2016 raising the number of the women in this sector to 165,281.

It said this was followed by the sector of wholesale and retail in which the working women increased by about eight percent.

The ministry has, on the other hand, started the ground work to gradually localize a number of sectors including tourism, supermarkets, health, shopping malls, groceries, car rentals offices and mobile vans selling foods and soft drinks.

The ministry is expected to nationalize jobs in these sectors in the coming few years by 100 percent to employ a large number of Saudi men and women.

The ministry said it had created job opportunities for more than 8,000 Saudi men and women when it nationalized jobs in the mobile selling and maintenance shops.

It said more than 33,000 Saudis would be employed in the tourism sector when it is entirely Saudized in 2018. The Saudization ratio in the sector is presently about 60 percent.

The ministry said the localization of jobs in the supermarkets in Qasim region would generate more than 6,000 employment opportunities.

It revealed that the health sector was nationalized by about 50 percent until the end of 2016 and said more than 93,000 Saudi men and women doctors, nurses and technicians would be employed in government hospitals and health centers by 2020.

The ministry also said it was planning to nationalize the labor market in Madinah which was completed by about 28 percent by the end of 2016.

It said the groceries and confectionary shops, which are now Saudized by about 20 percent, would be entirely Saudized by the year 2020 to provide jobs for more than 20,000 Saudis.

The ministry had earlier announced that the car rental shops, which are now Saudized by about 40 percent, would be completely Saudized to absorb more than 5,000 Saudis.

Originally Published on Saudi Gazette

Saudi Women Outperform Men In Finding Employment During the First Half of 2017

Bab Rizq Jameel Recruitment, part of Community Jameel, has helped more than 18,400 people in Saudi Arabia find employment during the first half of 2017.

In line with Saudi Vision 2030’s objective of increasing the number of Saudi men and women working in the private sector, this significant employment boost is spread across a variety of business sectors in all regions of Saudi Arabia, amounting to 10,027 jobs for women and 8,436 for men.

Geographically, the distribution of the new positions was strongest in the Western Region with a total of 8,085 new jobs, followed by the Central Region (3,760) and the Eastern Region (3,072). The Southern and Northern regions achieved 1,833 and 1,713 respectively.

Bab Rizq Jameel Recruitment helped create 10,170 jobs for men and women – mainly in the sales sector, customer service, and similar roles. The additional focus on helping Saudi women enter the workforce highlights the commitment of both Bab Rizq Jameel Recruitment and Community Jameel to deliver on the Saudi Vision 2030.

Rola Basamad, senior general manager of Bab Rizq Jameel Recruitment, said: “Helping people find meaningful employment is our primary function and the very reason for our existence.

“There is a great interaction between private companies, the decisions of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and Bab Rizq Jameel’s database of potential applicants. The database includes large numbers of graduates from universities and colleges of technology, with registrations increasing by about 50 percent since last year.

“Our streamlined registration system enables applicants to register online without having to visit the branch in person, resulting in even larger catchment of male and female job-seekers across Saudi Arabia, helping more people join the workforce and contribute to local economies across the Kingdom.”

Through initiatives such as Bab Rizq Jameel Recruitment, among many other programs that address education, poverty, arts and culture, and food and water security, Community Jameel continues to work towards building a better world by giving people the power to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

Originally published on Saudi Gazette

Report Shows 80% of Job Seekers in Saudi Arabia Are Women

Women constituted over three quarters of job seekers in Saudi Arabia, according to a report covering the last quarter of 2016.
Women represented 80.6 percent of registered job seekers as reported by the General Authority for Statistics, indicating a problem in accommodating a qualified female workforce in both the public and private sectors.
The report showed that women continue to search for jobs up to the age of retirement, given that 3,488 women aged 57 to 66 were still registered as job seekers. There were only 167 male job seekers in the same age group.
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, head of the economy and energy committee of the Shoura Council, said obstacles include the fact women are prevented from occupying some positions, as well as logistical issues, according to Al-Watan.
Although the Ministry of Labor and Social Development has been working on encouraging women’s employment through legislation, many are still unemployed, Al-Rashed reportedly said.
Al-Rashed is however optimistic about the future. He said that boosting the female workforce is an essential part of the Vision 2030 reform plan.
Women’s contribution to the economy is significant and is further growing given the short period of time since women entered the labor market, he added.
The number of private-sector Saudi female employees registered at the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) reached 496,800 by the end of the third quarter of 2016.
This marks a 144.62 percent increase from the 203,088 jobs that were occupied by women at the end of 2012.
Female employment grew 4.1 percent during the third quarter of 2016, compared to the same period in the previous year, GOSI reports show.
The government plans to increase the number of women in the workforce from 23 percent to 28 percent, and decrease the unemployment rate to 9 percent by 2020.

Originally published on Arab News 

Women Empowerment and Integration Forum

AccorHotels, one of the world’s leading hotel operators, held its first ‘Women Empowerment and Integration Forum’ at the Sofitel Jeddah.

The event focused on inspiring a new generation of young Saudi women to reach the highest levels of professional development.

The forum, which was open to the public, attracted over 300 attendees including local businesses, NGOs as well as students from the University of Business & Technology (UBT) Jeddah and Dar Al Hekma University. Government officials from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the Human Resources Development Fund were also on hand in addition to the event being graced by Her Highness Noura Bint Khalid Al Saud.

Salah Oumoudden, vice president of operations at AccorHotels Saudi Arabia and Egypt, said: “Initiatives such as the Women Empowerment and Integration Forum reflect AccorHotels’ core philosophy and our commitment to develop the local human resources of communities which we operate in thereby encouraging women to join the workplace and the hospitality industry."  
Amar Belgat, director of Human Resources & Training at AccorHotels Saudi Arbaia and Egypt, said: “As the leading hotel operator in Saudi Arabia with 20 hotels and 40 in development, we are committed to empowering young female talent; enhancing their skills and helping them reach their full potential within the workplace. We are dedicated to hiring more than 5,000 Saudi nationals over the next five years out of which 30 per cent will be made up of female employees."

Princess Noura Al Saud, representative for Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage, said: “As per the directives outlined in Saudi Vision 2030, the empowerment of women is an area that is vital for the further development of the kingdom. The SCTH is delighted to support AccorHotels in this noble endeavor aimed at helping to inspire young women in establishing their careers."

The Women Empowerment and Integration Forum is linked to AccorHotels’ commitment towards diversity and providing equal opportunity across the organization. Through the Women at AccorHotels Generation programme, the group is dedicated towards increasing the percentage of women across the organisation.

In the region, AccorHotels was the first hotel group to develop the Saudi Management Training Program (SMTP), a special management training programme tailor-made to encourage Saudi nationals to enter the hospitality industry. The second edition of the program was the first to include Saudi women, who constitute the majority of this year’s 21 participants. Furthermore, the SMTP is the first international hospitality training module to be recognized and accredited by the SCTH.

Haitham Banawi, head of recruitment at the Human Resources Development Fund, Makkah region, added: “We are proud to be associated with this forum which fits within our goals to develop the skills and capabilities of jobseekers in the Kingdom. Through this initiative we hope to raise further awareness amongst women within KSA on ways through which they can realise their full potential and integrate into the local workforce."

The Women Empowerment and Integration Forum featured workshops by Dr. Solafa Batterjee, CEO of Doroob and an EQ pioneer in Saudi Arabia alongside Dr. Nadia Basheen who serves as Jeddah International College Director. They covered a number of relevant topics including achieving a work-life balance and creating greater employment awareness within public and private sectors in Saudi Arabia.   

Originally published on Trade Arabia

Saudi Architect Among Foreign Policy 2016 Global Thinkers List

Saudi architect professor Haifa al-Hababi has been named in the ‘thinkers list’ of 2016 released by the US Foreign Policy magazine. Hababi has made the cut for her work in “seizing suffrage” - the right to vote in political elections in her homeland.

The architect professor was the first Saudi woman to register to run in last December’s municipal elections, the first in which women could vote and seek office. Over 900 individuals declared their candidature while 20 won seats.

Although Hababi lost her bid to join Riyadh’s Municipal Council, she continues to call for a new public attitude toward government. “In Saudi Arabia…we are selfish,” she told The Guardian in January. “It’s all about what people get from the government. We treat it as a father who must look after us.”

Originally published on Alarabiya

Saudi Women Meet with EU Delegation

Several Saudi women coming from different walks of life met with Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, who is currently leading an EU team to the Kingdom, on Tuesday. 

The women shared their experiences in handling top jobs. They explained how the Kingdom was moving forward to achieve its 2030 vision. Both sides also discussed methods of cooperation for exchanging culture and knowledge.

Lama Al-Sulaiman, a JCCI board member, noted that the European citizens need to know more about Saudi society and blamed the foreign media for playing a negative role by stereotyping the Saudi society and particularly, the status of Saudi women. The Western media, she urged, should be accurate while reporting instead of promoting biased information. 

The participants in the meeting broadly concurred that the higher authorities in the Kingdom are pro-women and that there is a wave of change that the country is witnessing, allowing women to claim the space they deserve. However, there is a segment of the society that is still resisting change, posing a challenge to women in their pursuit of advancement. 

Among the participants was Rasha Hifzi, a member of the municipal council, who spoke about the struggles she undertook to be allowed to sit side by side with men in the municipal council meetings. “It was me against 29 men,” she said adding that there is a plan to restructure the council to serve the public in a better way. However, she as a woman, faces problems at various levels.

Basma Al-Omair, head of Khadija Bin Khuwailid, spoke about the role the center plays in supporting women and noted that they have compiled statistics to monitor the views of the society regarding women empowerment. She noted that according to their findings a large portion of the society is supportive of women and noted that the social media does not really represent what goes on in society. She added that 20 percent of the JCCI manpower are women.

Sofana Dahlan, a lawyer and founder of the Saudi National Creative Initiative, shared her experience of obtaining a license to practice, which took years before she finally got it. She added that it was possible only after a royal decree that allowed women to obtain lawyer licenses. Prior to the decree, she used to visit Riyadh on a regular basis for a followup on her file. Now, she renews her license in her home city, Jeddah. Speaking about the cooperation between the EU and Kingdom she suggested that culture and art are great fields where they can cooperate and exchange experiences.
More awareness and education is needed, said Lama, in order to allow youth to plan for the jobs they shall seek for future rather than sticking to the traditional jobs, like teaches and doctors.

Originally published on Saudi Gazette

6 Saudi Women Get US Nuclear Medicine Certification


Six Saudi female scholarship students, along with four of their male colleagues, have received US board certification in nuclear medicine technology.
This is the largest number of Saudi students who have graduated with this rare specialization, local media reported on Friday. 
Sarah Yasir Farhood graduated in nuclear medicine technology in Boston, before obtaining US board certification in this specialization. “I chose this field because it is rare in the Kingdom. I intend to pass the US test and register for a specialization in nuclear medicine.” 
Sarah defines nuclear medicine as a branch of diagnostic medicine that contributes to treating various diseases. This technology uses small doses of rays from the nucleus of an atom and usually administers them through an injection, orally or through inhaling it. The radioactive material is concentrated in the afflicted organ, and releases invisible rays that are picked up by a special device called a Gama camera. 
Radioactive material can be injected into an afflicted organ and destroys sick cells. She said nuclear medicine has many uses such as heart imaging, bone imaging to examine fractures, inflammations and tumors, kidney, gall bladder and stomach examinations, and examinations for the possibility of lung blockage. 
She said that there is another part of nuclear medicine, which is the positron emission tomography, which is three-dimensional imaging. This imaging depends on injecting the patient with a radioactive solution that is linked to an active element such as sugar, to concentrate the solution in cancerous cells, allowing doctors to make an accurate diagnosis. 
She said after finishing three years of study, she underwent training at one of the largest hospitals in Boston, and learned how to care for patients and deal quickly with emergencies, in addition to attending nuclear medicine conferences inside and outside the state. 
“This was very good for us as students because it allowed us to build a social network of technicians from other countries,” she said.

Originally published on Arab News

Mariam Binladen First Woman to Complete 101-Mile River Thames Swim

Mariam Saleh Binladen, a dentist from Saudi Arabia, has set a new record as the first woman to officially swim 101 miles of the source of the River Thames in the United Kingdom. 

Swimming to inspire more women to participate in sport and to raise awareness of the plight of refugee Syrian orphans around the world, Mariam is just the third person and first woman in recent history to have successfully completed the 100+ mile open-water swimming feat. Most recently this included the British comedian and Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams, who finished the swim in 2011. 

Mariam’s marathon endurance swim began at Folly Bridge near Oxford on June 3 and finished at Teddington Lock in London at 1.05PM on 12th June. The swim was completed over 10 days and navigated 32 locks and some of the South of England’s most iconic towns and villages. Known for its strong currents and eddies as well as high pollution levels, the Thames is one of the most challenging and dangerous open water swims. 

Talking about her successful swim Mariam said: “I am thrilled and very proud to be the first woman to swim 101 miles of the Thames. I wanted to show that a young woman from Saudi Arabia can achieve a lifelong ambition, while at the same time raise awareness to bigger causes, particularly the plight of thousands of suffering Syrian orphan refugees. I also want to encourage more women from around the world to participate in sport and show them that anything is possible. 

“I have had the most amazing support from my coach Fiona, my support crew and my family in the preparation for this challenge. I would also like to thank all the people that came out and encouraged me along the way over the last 10 days – it was a great boost to be cheered on particularly when I was feeling exhausted after several days in the water. It was this support and my belief that ‘I aim and therefore I am’ which is about beginning with the end in mind — that has got me to the finish line today.”

Mariam trained for nearly two years to build up to the swim with support from her swim coach Fiona Southwell and family members. On Aug. 27, 2015 Mariam swam the Hellespont open water swim in Turkey and was the first Saudifemale to complete the race from Europe to Asia. 

Mariam was greeted by members of her family at the finish line in Teddington along with a crowd of well-wishers. A film documentary of the swim will be broadcast later in the year as part of the profile raising program for Mariam’s causes.

Originally published on Arab News

Saudi Diplomat at UN Climate Talks Proud of Her Global Role

source: IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

JEDDAH — Saudi diplomat Sarah Baashan who has been appointed to a key position in the UN climate negotiations spoke to Okaz/Saudi Gazette about her new role.

Baashan, along with New Zealand’s Jo Tyndall, was recently appointed vice chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), the main negotiating platform for hammering out a host of sticking issues in global climate talks.

Through her participation in several international conferences and being part of the legal committee in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Baashan said, she emphasized the importance of standing proud as a Saudi woman in the international arena.

“I worked in several organizations for more than 12 years after I obtained a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University,” she said.

Baashan said several Saudi women are playing key roles in the international arena and are involved in tackling issues of global importance.

“Saudi women are qualified and capable of taking leading national, regional and international roles. They are educated and well aware of the geopolitics of global relations,” Baashan said.

She said she has several years of experience in the field of the politics of climate change. “I joined the Saudi delegation participating in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2012,” said Baashan.

“Our role is to contribute positively to the issue of climate change. Climate change resulted in global warming, which is a problem for most industrial countries. The Kingdom, like many Arab countries, however is not a major contributor to the global warming,” said Baashan.

The Paris Convention on Climate Change, which hosted 195 different countries, resulted in the signing of an international agreement on climate change. The agreement is considered a key step in international efforts toward preventing the adverse effects of global warming and climate change.

Originally Published on Saudi Gazette

Saudi Dirtector Ahd Kamel Shoots Her First Feature Film

Image source: Nidaashow.com

Image source: Nidaashow.com

New York-trained Saudi actress-helmer Ahd Kamel is most recognized for her role as the teacher in “Wadjda.” As a director, she received attention with her 2013 short “Sanctity,” which premiered at the Berlinale. She’s shooting her first feature, in her home city of Jeddah.

Question: Tell us about your latest project.

Answer: The film is called “My Driver and I,” and it’s a coming-of-age story about a Saudi girl growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, and her friendship with her driver. I’m making this film because I grew up with a driver, who practically raised me, took me back and forth to school every single day, and when my parents passed away when I was a teenager, he was the only person who could rein me in. He really taught me a lot of the lessons I learned in life, but I only came to realize this about 10 years ago, after he passed away. It really hit me that I had taken this person for granted, and I also realized that I knew very little about his life. So essentially this film is an homage; it’s a way of saying thank you, and at the same time it’s about independence: He drives her in a car but at some point she has to take the wheel of her own life.

Q: It’s entirely Saudi funded. Did you look for international co-producers?

A: I looked at co-productions, but Saudi is a very unusual place because there are no co-production deals with any other country, so you run into many different problems, and I really wanted it to have the spirit of the people of my city. I also was fixated on trying to get money here because there are a lot of art patrons, and people who believe that this is essential for us to document a piece of culture that is almost non-existent now.

Q: With the high profile of Saudi films “Wadjda” and “Barakah Meets Barakah,” have things been easier or harder for you?

A: It’s hard to say. “Wadjda” was afforded certain things that we are not afforded now. Now the government is alert. But the government is actually supportive, even if they’re not very vocal about it. Behind the scenes I got permission from the censorship department. Not every film that’s coming out of Saudi is trying to make Saudi look bad. In fact, for me it’s more about looking like a human being. I’m just so sick and tired of this idea that you’re Saudi, therefore you’re a subject to be studied, especially as a woman.

Q: Do you feel a responsibility to changethe discourse about Saudi women?

A: It’s not a deliberate thing. I like to look at myself as a filmmaker, an artist who happens to be from Saudi. I never thought in my life that being a Saudi woman would be trendy! And now, it is super trendy for some reason. So if I can use it. … It’s kind of like the apocryphal Gandhi saying, “Be the change you want to see.” The fact that I exist means there already is a change.

Until recently, there were only a few animated Arab projects of which to speak, most of them pilots and videos on the small screen.

Enter Dubai-based banker-turned-producer Ayman Jamal, who in 2011 set up Barajoun Entertainment studios, the region’s first bona-fide animation studio in the Middle East. Jamal shepherded “Bilal,” a cinematic feat that marks the first CG-animated feature to come out of the region.

Inspired by the real-life story of Bilal Ibn Rabah, an African slave who became one of the early followers of the Prophet Muhammad, (PBUH) “Bilal” features Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (“Game of Thrones”) and child actor Andre Robinson (“Despicable Me 2”) as voice actors in the English-language version, which was completed first. The pic, which bowed at Doha’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival late last year, offers fast-paced action, plenty of battle sequences and lifelike characters sculpted in top-notch computer 3D, all of which involved hiring animators from 22 countries.

“We had to start from scratch to build a CG animation studio in Dubai Media City and recruit talent to start this whole industry in the region,” says Jamal. He is now looking to kickstart an Arab animation industry.

Co-directed by Jamal and Khurram H. Alavi, “Bilal” cost $30 million,provided mostly by equity investors, plus some support from the Doha Film Institute.

Bilal Ibn Rabah was an orphaned slave from Ethiopia who, along with his sister, was forced into servitude for the nasty Lord Umayyah. He fought for his freedom as he underwent a political and religious awakening. After converting, he became one of the most illustrious names in Islamic history, though many Muslims today do not know his story. But Jamal is quick to play down the religious aspect.

“I just like the fact that this is the first slave that was set free,” he says. “Growing up in this region and reading stories, you don’t get attached or inspired by a story for a religious reason. I got inspired by Gandhi because there was a movie made about Gandhi. I could not care less about his religion.”

Still, it can’t be denied that “Bilal” is an Islamic icon. As Variety critic Jay Weissberg noted, it “will likely be a welcome counterbalance to the disturbingly negative depiction of Muslims in the West.”

Interestingly, Jamal deliberately positioned it toward a PG-13 rating, making it scary and violent “because we believe there is a larger market for animation other than just kids,” he says.

Shortly before Berlin’s European Film Market in February, Barajoun inked a deal with Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi’s Toronto-based AIC Studios to jointly co-develop and produce five animated features budgeted in the $50 million range.

The first will be about Ziryab, the Iraqi musician, astronomer, and fashion designer who revolutionized medieval music during the Islamic era in Spain and remains influential to this day. American screenwriter Will Csaklos, who has worked as a script doctor on films such as “Finding Nemo,” “Ratatouille” and “The Princess and the Frog,” is putting the final touches on the screenplay.

Originally published on Arabtimesonline

Young Saudi Women Shine Producing Commercials

Image Source: LA times

Image Source: LA times

A new wave of Saudi women directors is emerging in the Saudi media industry.

Fai Al-Hussain said she is a student at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University’s Media and Public Relations College.

“I had the great fortune of directing a commercial for an American car company. I am still a student at the university. Visual media is a new field for Saudis, let alone Saudi women. The industry is practically non-existent for Saudi women yet,” said Al-Hussain.

She also said she and her colleagues are pioneering directors in the field of commercial visuals.

Fatima Al-Suhaibani, a student in the same college, was lucky to be the director of a leading company in coffee business.

“The company needed a commercial and I was hired to direct it. I am very grateful that I could start my career while I am still a student,” said Al-Suhaibani.

She also said as a pioneering woman in the field she has a lot of obstacles to overcome and new grounds to break.

“My aim is to honor my culture and society and show the world that there is nothing impossible to be achieved for me as a Saudi woman. I am still young and in need of a lot of experience but I am blessed to start while I am still studying,” said Al-Suhaibani.

Lamya Al-Nufaie, also from Imam University’s Media and Public Relations College, said: “I directed a commercial titled ‘Mohamsamah: A Camel’s Step’. I look for portraying my culture in a unique and eye-catching way.
I’ve had positive feedback from viewers. My colleagues and I are very proud to represent our university and our values,” said Al-Nufaie.

Media expert Ibrahim Al-Baeez said it is refreshing and amusing to see young talent in Saudi society.

“Saudi society is full of young and fresh talent that need to be given a platform to shine. What these girls have done is very impressive and it will pave the way for all of their colleagues in the future. I think the media industry in the Kingdom will go through an upsurge with new talents emerging in society,” said Al-Baeez.

Originally published on Saudi Gazette

Campaign to inspire Saudi fashion designers launched

Saudi women fashion label, Femi9, has launched a new campaign to inspire Saudi fashion designers and give them an opportunity to join the world of business.

The Women Appreciation Month (WAM) campaign, will see three contestants selected from among 15 candidates, to win the WAM Fashion Award.
A judging panel of top fashion experts will select three entrants with the most creative and outstanding designs.

All the 15 qualified designers will have a chance to showcase and market their designs before fashion experts, media outlets and attendees at the event.

They will also be awarded a certificate and a plaque from WAM Fashion Award.

The winners will be shown the steps they need to take to start their own e-shop on a website dedicated for fashion.

They will be able to sell their products around the world throughout the year without having to pay any logistics expenses.

Their designs will be displayed at Tbatik Boutique for three months. The judging panel will include the head of fashion design at Dar Al Hekma University, Prof. Dina Qattan, fashion designer and founder of Razan Al-Azouni brand, Razan Al-Azouni, the senior designer at Femi9, Yosra Efawee, and the founder of Niche company, Marriam Mossalli.

WAM is an annual initiative led by Femi9 in its efforts to recognize women’s role in society and express its appreciation for their contributions.

The initiative focuses on celebrating womanhood through different platforms that are of significance to women and play an important role in their lives.

Originally published on Saudi Gazette

Vogue Italia To Host Fashion Event In Saudi Arabia

Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani will host a three-day fashion extravaganza called the Jeddah Vogue Fashion Experience in Saudi Arabia next month, WWD has learned. The event is being dubbed the first international fashion event of its scale in Saudi Arabia, a market that is gaining increased attention due to its expanding design industry and spending power.

“This initiative builds on Vogue Italia’s deep commitment to promote new fashion talents, knowing how important it is to offer them relevant and concrete international platforms to present and advance their creativity,” Sozzani told WWD.

Under the umbrella of the Vogue Talents platform, a team at Vogue Italia led by senior fashion editor Sara Maino will select 10 Saudi female designers to present at the event, cohosted by Saudi luxury retailer Rubaiyat. One winner will get the chance to present her collection in Milan. All the finalists will exhibit their work at the Rubaiyat department store in Jeddah and will have the opportunity to showcase and sell their collections at the Stars Avenue Mall.

“It is tremendously rewarding to see Saudi women being given such an opportunity on the world stage,” commented Wafaa Abbar, president of the Rubaiyat Group.

Sozzani has previously hosted an annual Vogue Fashion Experience event in Dubai where she has brought in the likes of Riccardo Tisci, Naomi Campbell, Silvia Fendi, Alberta Ferretti and Christian Louboutin. In keeping with conservative Saudi Arabia, the Jeddah Vogue Fashion Experience will be a women’s only forum that also includes a charity gala dinner benefiting the World Food Program.

Originally published on WWD


British Council Launches ‘Contemporary Collective’ For Saudi Women

The British Council is launching a new study programme for Saudi women called ‘Contemporary Collective’ focusing on contemporary curating and arts management. Launched on International Women’s Day and designed to inspire self-motivated, aspiring female curators and arts administrators, the six-month programme will start in August 2016.

Developed as part of the British Council’s ongoing commitment to supporting diverse opportunities for young people across the Kingdom and the GCC, and in response to the growing interest in contemporary art in KSA, the programme focuses on the selection and presentation of modern and contemporary art, with close attention to the specifics of presenting art in the MENA region.

“This exciting and interactive programme supports young women on the path to building a dynamic, resilient creative economy in Saudi Arabia, and ultimately forges new cultural connections between Saudi, the UK and the wider region.  With support, access and mentoring with expert cultural and artistic practitioners from the UK and the Middle East, our students will be able to improve their skills in a broad range of areas stretching from collection management to public outreach.  As events and exhibitions such as 21,39 Jeddah Arts further develop the visual arts industry in Jeddah, Riyadh and across Saudi Arabia, we are excited to support young people grow their careers in this fast paced industry,” Emma Dexter, Director of Visual Arts, British Council, UK said.

Five women will be enrolled on the programme which will cover the fundamentals of curatorial practice, critical thinking and writing, along with the practical elements of arts management such as planning art events and reaching diverse audiences. Throughout the course, participants will take part in a series of comprehensive learning modules, case studies and master-classes. In addition, successful participants will be able to take advantage of a valuable two weeks in London, encompassing a capsule curating course at The Whitechapel Gallery.  They will also visit key art spaces across the UAE to build useful networks, furthering the friendly exchange of knowledge and ideas between regional art scenes.

Participants will also get the opportunity to collaborate on an exhibition concept that will be developed and realised in Jeddah and Riyadh in 2017. They will have the British Council’s extensive art collection of more than 8500 artworks to choose from.

Originally published on Saudi Gazette

Aramco, GE, TCS mark founding of Riyadh All-Women Center for Business Process & IT Service

RIYADH — Tata Consultancy Services, along with its partners Saudi Aramco and GE, celebrated on Tuesday the 2nd year anniversary of its Riyadh All-Women Center for Business Process and IT Services and the milestone of hiring 1,000 highly skilled employees.

The second anniversary of the All-Women Business Process Services and IT Center in Riyadh marks significant progress made with this unique initiative, which was established with the goal of supporting the Kingdom’s socio-economic development strategy by creating a new business model promoting job creation for Saudi women and strengthening economic diversification.

Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Health and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Aramco; Dr Mufrej Al-Haqbani, Minister of Labor;  Abdullatif Al Othman, Governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA); Shane Fitzsimons, Senior Vice President, GE Global Operations; Natarajan Chandrasekaran, CEO & MD of TCS and over 100 dignitaries from Saudi Arabia government entities and business executives attended the second anniversary ceremony in Riyadh. The event was also attended by female leaders from different sectors in Saudi Arabia, including members of the Shura Council and counsellors of various ministries, leaders of Saudi universities, and the executive heads of local and international companies.

Khalid A. Al-Falih said: “In line with the Kingdom’s economic diversification and job creation objectives, the Riyadh All-Women employee Center is spurring the growth of a viable but under-represented employment sector in our society. The Center is providing an expanding and impressive customer list with vital business process and IT services to help boost customers’ productivity, efficiency and cost management, and in the process is bringing jobs from other parts of the world to the Kingdom and adding real value to our economy.”

Al-Falih added: “Saudi Aramco is proud of its role in proactively supporting the Center, alongside our partners Tata Consulting Services and GE. Delivering on our shared vision, the Center has now reached almost 1,000 female employees by its second year anniversary. This is a huge achievement for the Center’s partners, clients and, most importantly, its highly talented and qualified workforce.”

“I encourage other companies and government agencies to both take advantage of the remarkable success achieved by the Center and develop opportunities replicating similar business centers in all regions of our Kingdom,” adding “This will provide a welcome and needed boost to our labor market and economy,” he remarked.

The All-Women employee Center was established by TCS, Saudi Aramco and GE in 2013, with TCS and GE owning 76% and 24% equity in the venture. The Centre’s initial clients were Saudi Aramco and GE as ‘anchor clients’, but the Center has extended its capabilities and client list to also include Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and the Saudi Ministry of Economy and Planning. The center has achieved the milestone of hiring 1,000 highly skilled women, 85% local nationals, providing long-term career opportunities. Among the staff are Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degree holders, demonstrating the high professional standards being set by Saudi women at the center, led by an experienced Saudi leader, Dr Amal Fatani.

N. Chandrasekaran, CEO and MD of TCS, said: “Hiring 1,000 highly skilled women is a testimony to our long term commitment to the Saudi Arabia and to further achieve job creation goals of the Kingdom. The endeavour of this Centre is to tap into this local talent pool & help develop women leaders of tomorrow. This is in line with the Kingdom’s objective of improving employability of students during their graduation; with a focus on specialization in professional areas.”

Neeraj Srivastava, Regional Director, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain of TCS, added: “We have had many successes, not just in terms of exponential growth but also the progress made with respect to the value added to our customers through process improvements & efficiencies built. We will continue to bring the might of TCS into the Kingdom and enable careers and successes for our employees and customers.”

All-Women Business Process and IT Services Center supports GE Global Operations in delivering over 20 key business operations, such as Finance and Accounting, Human Resource Outsourcing, Supply Chain Management, Information Technology and Enterprize Data Management, for more than 50 GE locations world-wide.

The GE geographic footprint served by the Center includes the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, the USA and India.

John Rice, GE Vice Chairman, said: “We are very proud of the great accomplishments and progress made at the Center over the last two years. The talented Saudi women who make up the Center have built it from a start-up into a world-class business process services organization that competes on a global level and supports GE activities in over 50 countries.  We value the partnership with Saudi Aramco and TCS to realize new possibilities and translate great talent into meaningful outcomes for the Kingdom and customers across the globe.”

Shane Fitzsimons, Senior Vice President, GE Global Operations, said: “It has been an amazing two years of progress and we are delighted that the Center has exceeded our ambitious expectations. A close partnership between TCS, Aramco and GE; the amazing talent in Saudi Arabia; and our focus on delivery, quality and process improvement continues to add value for all customers. We have established a great foundation and can now leverage that to support the growth of the shared services industry across the Kingdom.”

The pioneering initiative by three global business leaders – TCS, Saudi Aramco and GE – is underpinned by extensive talent development programs for employees. To date, more than 610,000 cumulative hours of intensive training sessions have been conducted in various disciplines. In addition, both TCS and GE have established partnerships with Saudi academic institutions to incorporate relevant content into their curricula including Business Administration and Information Technology.

The Center is now an integral part of the TCS Global Network Delivery Model (GNDMTM), which has locations in over 10 countries including China, Philippines, India, Hungary, United Kingdom, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.

In 2012 GE committed $1 billion investment in Saudi Arabia and this joint initiative with Saudi Aramco and TCS demonstrates delivery in support of the Kingdom’s economic growth and diversification. The center in Saudi Arabia is one of five GE Global Operations Centers in the world; the other four are located in Cincinnati, Ohio; Pudong, China; Monterrey, Mexico and Budapest, Hungary.

Originally published on Saudi Gazette

Women Investors Meeting to Focus on Women’s Role in National Economic Development



The first Women Investors Meeting will be held Feb. 22, during which time recipients of the Princess Lolowah bint Abdulaziz Award will be honored. 

The event is hosted by the Women’s Committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) with the support of Princess Norah Al Saud, wife of the Riyadh governor.

The meeting will be moderated by Director of Businesswomen’s Committee at Riyadh Chamber of Commerce Nouf Al Rakan, and Al Saud will recognize award winners as they are selected from the Productive Families, Business Leadership and Young Leaders categories.

In addition to the distribution of awards, the meeting will consist of a speech from Director of the Women’s Department Dr. Reem Al Frayan, as well as an address from Al Saud. The meeting will also make time for a dialogue session with those concerned with supporting business growth in the kingdom.

The meeting was developed as part of CSC’s concentration on the support of, and women’s involvement in, the national economy. The Women Investors Meeting is an organized effort to begin events where Saudi businesswomen can network and discuss challenges, current projects and future goals. The events will also act as an outlet for businesswomen to talk about experiences and upcoming events that could boost women’s role in the national economic development process.

Originally published on Gulf News Journal 

British Council Offering Professional Programs for Saudi Women


The British Council in Saudi Arabia is offering developmental programs, which are specially designed for progression of women’s skills. 

The program called Springboard, which has been launched all over the Kingdom, is affiliated to the Ministry of Social Affairs and has won several awards for innovation and quality in other countries. 

“The Springboard Program helps women in identifying clear, practical and realistic steps they need to take to develop skills and confidence,” said Faten Haidar Lahham, project manager at the British Council in Saudi Arabia.

She added that the development program covers topics such as team building and self-awareness — understanding personal values, skills, interest and relationships.

The Springboard Women’s Development Program is designed for women from all backgrounds, ages and stages of their lives.

Although it was initially designed and developed for women belonging to non-management background, gradually women from all levels, including those at managerial levels, have started participating in the program to benefit their personal and career development.

Lahham told Saudi Gazette that this program enables employers to develop staff to their fullest potential, is quick and easy to implement and is often a key component in their staffing initiatives.

The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relationships. With 129 teaching centers across the world, it teaches over 1 million classroom hours every year.

“We also connect people through visits, student exchange programs, exams, library services and the many arts and cultural events we hold. In the Middle East, we do this by providing a range of relevant, culturally aware services and quality training programs to a wide range of individuals and groups,” Lahham said.

She added that the main purpose of the program in the Middle East is empowering women with the needed skills, to enable them managing their personal and professional life effectively and successfully. In the Kingdom, the program is affiliated to the Ministry of Social affairs.

Jobs for Saudi Women as Cooks and Waitresses Under Study

The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) is conducting a study to see how Saudi women can be employed in the food and hospitality sector, including as cooks, waitresses and receptionists.
Adel Makki, head of the hospitality committee at the JCCI, said women can be employed in the industry in compliance with Islamic rules, according to a report published recently in Aleqtesadiah, a sister publication of Arab News. 
Makki said the jobs would be as cooks, cook helpers, supervisors, receptionists and waitresses. They can be paid a monthly salary of SR5,000 to start with, with increases based on performance.
Makki said there are several institutes in the Kingdom able to provide training for women in the hospitality sector. They can also get on-the-job training as trainees, he said.
Recently, Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani said unemployment among Saudi women rose from 15 percent in 2014 to 32 percent in 2015. He urged the private sector to place their trust in Saudi women and integrate them into the job market.
He said the government would launch a set of programs for the employment of Saudi women in the private sector in the coming weeks. There are also plans to establish colleges of excellence in cooperation with the private sector to attract world class teachers to train Saudi youth.
The Department of General Statistics and Information recorded unemployment among Saudis at 11.7 percent in 2014 compared to 11.5 percent in 2013. It showed that unemployment among Saudi women was 32.8 percent in 2015 while it was 5.9 percent for men.
Unemployment in the Eastern Province, Al-Jouf and Asir was less than 10 percent, and in Makkah, Al-Qassim and Tabuk up to 12 percent. Hail, Madinah and Najran have 13 to 15 percent unemployment, while Riyadh has more than 15 percent.

Originally published Arab News

On Creating Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises


A design of a woman wearing a black head-to-toe abaya as she rides her bicycle down the street features on the embroidered border of Ayah Al Bitar’s new range of floor cushions. She likens it to a comic strip that tells “the story of the life of a Saudi woman”

Her stand displaying her home furnishings, shaped in the style of a bicycle seat, at Saudi Design Week in Riyadh in May, attracted crowds of potential buyers and supporters of her message. Transport is a central theme in her collection and a loaded topic in Saudi Arabia, where the mobility of women is often restricted. The kingdom only gave women the right to ride a bicycle in public three years ago.

But she is pushing boundaries in more ways than one. Bitar, 23, is among the growing number of Saudi women setting up small- and medium-sized enterprises. “I’m provoking thought through my work but also as the face of my brand,” she says.



From cupcake making to furniture shops, clothes boutiques and consultancies, Saudi businesswomen are becoming a growing public presence in Saudi society even as social norms often still dictate they should stay behind closed doors.

These women are often in the top echelons of society, highly educated and frequently wealthy. But their participation in Saudi society is often misunderstood in the West.

“This place is not just about the abaya and women not being able to drive,” says a female art gallery curator in Riyadh, dressed in an ebony cloak, tightly wrapped headscarf and silken gloves. “You have to look past the veils. We are doing a lot of interesting work.”

Opportunities in higher education at home and abroad, financial stability, familial encouragement, the easing of labour restrictions and social media are among factors that are bringing more women into the workforce and the business world.

Samar Nasraldin set up contemporary womenswear brand Atulier after returning home to the Red Sea Saudi port city of Jeddah from her studies in Paris. “Many people here think, ‘You’re wealthy — you don’t need to work,’” she says. “But I wanted to create something of my own, to leave a legacy.”

“The outside world doesn’t see it, but there has been major transformation in Saudi Arabia,” says Reem Asaad, a financial adviser who successfully led the campaign to substitute women for male shop assistants in lingerie and cosmetics stores. From opportunities in retail to advertising and IT, more sectors have opened up for women. Economic necessity for many low- and middle-income Saudi families has also been a catalyst.

“The impact has been big, even in the last two years alone. The mall I’m standing in now has a 60 per cent female workforce,” she says of the upscale Stars Avenue shopping complex in Jeddah. “Traditional value structures are being challenged,” she adds.

Spurring the rise of female entrepreneurs have been improved women’s education and programmes over the past decade under the late King Abdullah, who paid for thousands of young women to study abroad. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have driven the creation and promotion of enterprises women can operate from home. “The economic and social needs of millennial women are different to those of generations past,” Asaad says.

But much more work needs to be done in a country where women only recently won the right to vote and are not allowed to drive. While Saudi Arabia scored a near perfect equality score of 0.988 (out of 1) for educational attainment by both sexes, it fell to 0.27 for labour force participation, according to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index for 2015.

Maha Al Sudairi, who three years ago created Think Tank, a brand and product development business, says female-run businesses can create more jobs for women. She says her company employs a dozen Saudi women who did not have the opportunity she had to live and work abroad. “I also envision creating a crèche for women who want to work and have children,” she adds.

think tank logo.jpg

Gender segregation has created difficulties for female-run businesses, many of which would prefer to use female providers of legal, accounting and management advice, for example.

Seeing the opportunity, a group of investors, including women from prominent Saudi families, has set up Rasyah, a wealth management, business advisory and development group to target affluent Saudi women — a market it estimates at SR100bn ($27bn).

It is not just the younger generation that is branching out. Nicola Beer, a lifestyle coach in Dubai says several of her Saudi clients are setting up their own businesses later in life. “Often it is a result of divorce or [other] change in financial circumstances, or after their kids have grown up,” she says. “Many women have devoted their lives to their husbands and children. When they’re no longer there, they think, ‘Now it’s about me, what do I want to do?’”

After more than 30 years as a professor of biology in Riyadh, May Al Jaser set up a gelato shop in her 60s. “I thought I would retire and try something new. But this is anything but part-time — it’s a full time commitment,” she says. 

She refused to operate the business with a male legal representative, she adds. “I did everything myself; I didn’t want to be behind the scenes. Going to the municipality for permits, the chamber of commerce, getting my equipment through customs at the airport — I went into all of these male-dominated areas. Even a decade ago I couldn’t have done this.”

Originally Published on Financial Times